Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world have different destinations that offer holistic living experiences. One such place is Swaswara, located on Om Beach in Gokarna. For accommodation in Shekhawati, Piramal Haveli is a recommended option. If you're looking for luxury travel in a pilgrimage city, the Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is a great choice. Experience the vibrant lifestyle of Lucknow by staying at Clarks Awadh. In Nagpur, Chitnavis Wada is a heritage site that provides a glimpse into the city's history and culture.
This particular Wada stands out among the few that have successfully maintained the magnificence and traditional allure of the prestigious residences. I walked through an entrance with an arched gate and a wooden door. A sign displayed outside indicated its name and location.
When I entered the Chitnavis Wada in Nagpur, I immediately noticed the presence of buildings surrounding an open area. It was challenging to determine whether I was inside the Wada or still outside due to the layout. The construction on the main door side had a distinct colonial era feel, particularly with the wooden blind panels that reminded me of structures in Colonial Calcutta.
The towering trees, likely more ancient than the nearby buildings, rise high above. I entered the space that was pointed out to me as the office. It is filled with various aged wooden furnishings, such as palanquins, wooden crates, writing desks, and wooden carts. It dawned on me that this is the central Wada. The structures I observed outside were additional sections that functioned as a guest house during the time of British rule.
I received assistance from a courteous man in charge of the establishment who provided me with a brochure and requested the staff to unlock the wada for me. My expectations were not high, assuming that the Wada would only contain pleasant wood-carved pillars. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised as soon as I caught sight of the intricately carved wooden pillars surrounding the front courtyard.
Chitnavis Wada is a traditional mansion, known as a Haveli, that consists of three courtyards arranged consecutively. This architectural design, with multiple courtyards, resembles the layout commonly found in Shekhawati Havelis. The first courtyard, also known as the First Chowk, typically serves as a public space where visitors, including guests and individuals conducting business, would gather. In the case of Chitnavis Wada, this particular courtyard served as the family head's office.
Chitnavis is a title given to the highest-ranking documentation officer of a king. The Wada, or building, in question was constructed by Rakhmaji Ganesh Randive, who held the position of Chitnavis for the Bhosle kings of Nagpur. Randive arrived in Nagpur in 1744 CE alongside Raghuji – I Bhosle. The Wada is estimated to be approximately 200 years old, judging by its stylistic details.
As I entered the initial courtyard of Chitnavis Wada's Deoghar Chowk, I was immediately greeted by vibrant paintings adorning the walls. The open courtyard, although currently sheltered by wooden overhead coverings, still retained its soothing mud flooring along the surrounding corridor.
On the walls, there were paintings that portrayed the life of Krishna, who I would later find out is the deity worshipped by the family. These paintings included scenes from well-known epics like Mahabharata. Additionally, there were framed lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma's artworks.
Located in a corner of the courtyard is a charming wooden temple that bears resemblance to many temples found in Rajasthan. This temple is dedicated to Krishna and holds a captivating beauty. When one sits in front of this temple, they are completely encompassed by the presence of Krishna. This courtyard is appropriately named Deoghar Chowk, signifying its status as the sacred space of the deity.
At the Family or Fountain Chowk, there was a door that led us to the next chowk. In the center of this chowk was a beautiful fountain. Surrounding the fountain was a corridor with mud flooring. We took a seat around the fountain and appreciated this peaceful and cozy area of the Wada. This particular space was designated for families to come together and enjoy a meal. I could envision the women of the family gathering here for friendly conversations or to bask in the sunlight.
At the next intersection, we entered the final courtyard which appeared to be primarily utilized by the household staff. This area was previously the kitchen. Evidence of its former use included a grinding stone and grooves for pounding ingredients. Additionally, there was a well and a Tulsi plant present. Colorful Palkis were scattered throughout the space.
One intriguing aspect is a small aperture in the wall that is linked to the storage area for grains. By simply opening the window, one can easily retrieve the necessary grains for cooking. This can also be referred to as a service area or the behind-the-scenes operations for maintaining the wada.
Located on the side of the chowk, there is a door that leads to the family temple called Murlidhar Temple. It is common for large traditional houses, known as wadas, to have their own personal temple dedicated to their family deity. In this particular wada, the temple is dedicated to Murlidhar. The temple features a small inner sanctum (garbhagriha) and a shikhara (tower) in the Nagar architectural style. Inside the temple, the mandapa (hall) is adorned with wooden pillars, a common feature seen in many temples in Nagpur. Additionally, there are smaller temples dedicated to Hanuman and Garuda on either side of the main temple.
At Chitnavis Wada, we can appreciate the beautiful wood carvings both inside and outside the building. Upon exiting, we are greeted by the impressive woodwork, featuring a distinct hanging corner adorned with a peacock and parrot. The incorporation of banana flower endings in the design is reminiscent of the Peshwa wadas found in Pune.
The higher levels of the building are linked to the external guest accommodations. The guest houses, which have a colonial style, were likely utilized for entertaining or hosting European individuals. This section is attached to the main residence but is distinct, forming a divide between the family space and the area designated for guests.
Across from the wada, there was a garden designed in the style of Charbhag, which features walking paths that divide the garden into four sections. The garden has somewhat lost its original charm but I did come across a fascinating old handpump that is still functional.
On top of the Wada building, you have a vantage point to observe the inner courtyards and the Murlidhar temple. Additionally, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city that surrounds it. I had the opportunity to visit during sunset, and the charming red tiled roofs enhanced the ambiance of the scene.
Throughout time, the current owners of the Wada have attempted to incorporate contemporary amenities such as bathrooms. A section of the Wada has been designated as an office space for different organizations. Additionally, the owners also offer the property for rent to host events like weddings or small gatherings. Visitors may observe the traditional use of wooden planks for serving food.
Currently, the place is not accessible to the general public. To visit it, you must get in touch with the office of Sh Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis Trust. The heritage tour of the Wada is organized by Architect Nitika Ramani, so it might be advisable to arrange the visit through her.
The amount of time required to see it varies depending on how interested you are, typically taking around 1-2 hours.
In the lanes surrounding Chitnavis Wada, there are numerous Wadas and temples that you can explore on foot.
Other articles in the same category include "Ramtek – The Influence of the Ramayana in Vidarbha," which explores the historical and cultural significance of the Ramayana in the region of Vidarbha. Another article, "Lingaraja Temple at Bhubaneshwar – A Masterpiece of Kalinga Architecture," delves into the architectural brilliance of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar. Lastly, "Matheran: A Charming Hill Station in Maharashtra" highlights the beauty and charm of the hill station Matheran in Maharashtra.
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